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The price of wilfulness – Gabriel’s daughters (Chapter 4)

From beyond the seas – A history of the Alfort family.

Chapter 4

The price of wilfulness – Gabriel’s daughters


Gabriel Gyllenståhl (1640-1705), Erik Alforts svärfar.

Gabriel Gyllenståhl (1640-1705). Painting by David von Krafft, 1700.

Gabriel Gyllenståhl’s willpower and refusal to be gainsaid or overruled was a personality trait inherited by his eldest daughter Hedevig Margareta Gyllenståhl. The two wills of father and daughter were doomed to eventually clash, and perhaps surprisingly this conflict with his daughter hurt him deeply and weakened him both physically and mentally.

Being such a rich man, Gabriel was naturally aware of the very real risk that his daughters would be courted by a lot of unsuitable men who were only after their money. In fact, none of them had uneventful marriages. Hedevig fought against her father’s wishes, as we shall see presently, and Maria’s marriage to captain Erik Alfort was thoroughly unhappy. Erik became violent and aggressive towards her over the years, and Gabriel was forced to act as a mediator between them when things got rough. All of this was an enormous strain on Gabriel’s nerves, and his strength weakened as he grew older. The third daughter, Märta, kept her engagement secret from her family, which was perhaps as well, given that Gabriel was dying at the time, and more worries of that kind might have finished him off on a bad note.

Very likely he was decidedly grumpy in his old age. He had become very stout, and this started to keep him from going to meetings and presiding at important decisions – something which would naturally have annoyed a domineering man like Gabriel Gyllenståhl and made his old age less agreeable.

 icon-arrow-right The next section ”The wedding without a priest” tells the gripping story about Hedevig Gyllenståhl’s forbidden love.


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